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July 2, 2013

Ghoulish TV host Sammy Terry dies

Bob Carter, the actor who portrayed ghoulish Indianapolis late night television movie host Sammy Terry for nearly three decades, has died.

Carter died Sunday at an Indianapolis nursing home, Paul Burton of Singleton Mortuary said. He did not disclose the cause of death.

Sammy Terry was a fixture of Indianapolis local television from 1962 to 1989, beginning each episode of “Nightmare Theater” on WTTV-TV  — Channel 4 to thousands of Hoosiers — by climbing out of a coffin with a trademark fiendish chuckle and wearing a blood-red cape and skullcap and green makeup on his face. His sidekick was a toy spider named George.

The name Sammy Terry was a play on the word cemetery.

Carter was among the early television pioneers at independent stations around the country producing and starring in local programs.

Before arriving in Indianapolis and inventing Sammy Terry, he worked as a weatherman in Peoria, Ill., and hosted a teen dance television show in Fort Wayne. He had a master’s degree in television production from Syracuse University.

“There was hardly any programming available for the independent stations back then, so we had to build programming,” Carter told The Indianapolis Star in 2007.

Carter also owned and operated an Indianapolis music store.

Carter is survived by his wife of 59 years, Phyllis, and his four children, including a son, Mark, who has appeared as Sammy Terry in recent years.

Visitation for Carter is planned for Friday at the mortuary. A private burial is planned for Saturday.

One of Mark Carter’s appearance as Sammy Terry was in October 2012, when he entertained visitors to “Frightmares Haunted House” at Humphrey Park in Linton.

At that time, the younger Carter told Tribune-Star columnist Mark Bennett that his father had not been a big fan of horror movies before developing his niche in late night Hoosier TV viewing. “So many great and grand things grow out of nothingness,” Mark Carter said. “He (his father) didn’t have any great interest in horror, but because that was the opportunity on the table, he developed an interest in horror movies pretty quick.”

The show started as a 13-week trial, according to Bennett’s column. “And that was the longest-running 13-week contract in the history of television,” Mark Carter said.

“It wasn’t just this TV show they watched,” the younger Carter said. “He got inside their mind.”

Bob Carter was inducted into the Horror Post Hall of Fame in 2011.

Content from an Oct. 4, 2012, column by the Tribune-Star’s Mark Bennett has been added to the Associated Press story.

 

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